Video games at schools?! – Yes, a thousand times yes!

“Hey! I have got great news: we can change the way we educate students! The answer is an electronic game-based classroom…” – These exact words, taken from the performance of one incredible boy on TEDx talk, inspired me to write this post about the usage of educational digital games in the classroom. In particular, I will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of using the educational video games on lessons at schools by the examples of several teachers who successfully apply this approach in their teaching.

First of all, educational games are different from the usual games kids and even adults play these days. In fact, the educational games can really teach you a diversity of subjects and skills: math, reading, vocabulary, physics, science, computer science (also, check out this video), creativity, persuasive skills, and even social skills. Educational games can challenge students to think about the environmental problems in the world by using SimCity game, about the sustainability and the ways to improve the quality of life with the help of EnerCities application and even prepare students for natural disasters and demonstrate the ways of preventing them. Actually, there is a long list of such awesome educational games on the internet (check out this site).  For me, these games are just amazing tools of educating children effectively without getting them bored and annoyed with school. However, before jumping to conclusions about the appropriateness of the game-based classroom in Kazakhstani context, it is crucial to weigh all pros and cons of this approach.

Screenshot_Facebook_1 math_blaster

The first advantage is an individualized approach to every student. As Cordell Steiner (a boy from the TEDx talk) says, this individualized approach of game-based learning considers the abilities of every student and helps them to be on one track. Cordeil’s teacher Mr. Pai believes that in traditional classrooms one teacher cannot handle the whole class and find an individual approach to every student. Conversely, in a game-based classroom, students are independent learners and a teacher can adapt games to their needs and levels of knowledge. Moreover, in a game-based classroom, students are driven to study by the intrinsic rather than extrinsic motivation (Habgood & Ainsworth, 2011). In other words, students are engaged with the game and want to learn more in order to solve the problems and puzzles. Therefore, they care less about their grades and are not afraid of failures since it is one of the ways to learn on their mistakes.

gamin_In_class

Even though I do not want to accept the disadvantages of implementing a game-based learning, they do really exist. However, I would call them challenges rather than disadvantages. The first one is the misconceptions of parents about the effectiveness and appropriateness of using video games in the classroom. Lisa Parisi, a teacher of fourth graders, faced this problem at the onset of shifting her classroom from traditional to a game-based learning. She says that parents were worrying that their children used too much video games at school and then at home, since even their homework was based on these games. The second challenge is concerning the digital preparedness of teachers and their eagerness to spend much time looking for games on the internet and adapting them to the content of the curriculum. In Kazakhstani schools, it is even more impossible since teachers are restricted to follow the curriculum approved by the Ministry of Education and administration of schools. In addition, most schools are not able to provide all students with laptops or other technical devices.

To conclude, a game-based classroom is an innovative approach of conducting traditional lessons in an engaging and more effective way. The reality of our education at school shows that the product (education) is offered to customers (students) without considering their preferences and abilities.  Thus, the customers (students) either reject buying this product (resist learning, misbehave at schools) or buy it with a great reluctance because of some external factors (good grades, pressure from parents).  As we live in the era of digital competition, we need to prepare our children to be creative and competitive innovators in the future. Thus, the usage of digital games in teaching and learning can play a huge role in this development.

P/S I CHALLENGE you to watch this amazing speech of Cordell Steiner, a boy who can compete with many adult public speakers.

References:

Habgood, M., & Ainsworth, S. (2011). Motivating Children to Learn Effectively: Exploring the Value of Intrinsic Integration in Educational Games. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 20(2), 169-206.

4 thoughts on “Video games at schools?! – Yes, a thousand times yes!

  1. Thank you for this topic and inspiring video! As a person who is easily carried away by entertaining activities and even more easily become bored by routine cramming, I would definitely try this approach. I can easily see some additional advantages of this “gaming” approach: the modern computer games have good quality of graphics, they are flexible in setting different modes and thus could be adjusted to the needs and abilities of every student. However, I do understand the parents’ concerns: it is a commonly accepted fact that spending too much time in front of the monitor negatively affects humans’ health, especially talking about children. Moreover, there is a risk of becoming addicted to games. We all know how popular are such games as Counter strike or War Craft: young adults play these games days and nights neglecting their study. So, I believe, that implementing “gaming method” requires careful observation and further study of possible consequences.

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  2. Lyudmila, your topic inspired me to how to make the educational process of my little sister easier! Thank you for this list of educational games, I definitely will use it! Despite the fact that educational process in our country hard to change, teachers and parents could collaborate and could introduce these educational games as additional material (for example, bonus homework). I think it would be great for all teachers, students, and their parents because these games will facilitate learning and enhance the students’ motivation that our students lack of. It is evident that the changing of ways of teaching and learning goes across the world and Kazakhstan will realize soon that we also have to upgrade the system towards individualized learning.

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  3. Thanks a lot for really interesting post about video games at schools. Currently, the idea of using video games as tool for teaching is really innovative and contemporary. It suits perfectly for current students of schools because they are the children of 21th century. However, we should take into account the age and mental stature of students who are involved in video game class. Of course, there is a risk to become addicted to games, but also to loose ability to write and read. If teachers overuse video games for teaching students they can forget how to write and read. Teachers should not overuse this new innovative approach to education in favor of writing and reading skills. In other words, they must pay attention on students’ writing and reading skills.

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  4. Thanks for the post, Lyudmila! I absolutely adore this idea of applying videogames into teaching context, since I am a fan of videogames and now don’t have any time to play them *sighhh*
    I think it can be applied as a source for checking students’ knowledge (an alternative for borrowing quizes, for example), since for children it’s a great opportunity to compete with each other by showing some knowledge, otherwise the laziest and not hard-working students will lose the game, which is totally a great incentive for them to start studying.
    Though, yeah, I do agree with the suspicious parents, who think it’s not really relevant to let children play videogames in a classroom on a regular basis. I would like to follow the old saying, business before pleasure)))

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